Updates on “SPILL”, Hari Krishnan, and Brad Roth’s “Shared Ability” Program

This is just a note to thank you for attending our events and exhibitions this past year.  I hope you have enjoyed and been challenged by the work of our faculty, students and visiting artists! After Reunion/Commencement this weekend, we will be switching gears to prepare for another beautiful summer in Middletown and the CFA’s summer series. I’ll be posting various CFA news items as I hear about what our students and faculty are up to, as well as our alumni and visiting artists.  Feel free to email me with any news you think I should know about at ptatge@wesleyan.edu.

First, I want to let those of you who saw Leigh Fondakowski’s work-in-progress SPILL at Beckham Hall in February know that she and her artistic collaborator for the project, Reeva Wortel, have been awarded two 3-week residencies in New Orleans this fall. Fondakowski and Wortel will live and work at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts and at Louisiana State University to further develop the play. Fondakowski’s hope is to premier the completed work in New Orleans on the third anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in April 2013. We’re so excited to see this important work travel home, completing the circle begun last summer as seven Wesleyan students journeyed with Fondakowski and Wesleyan’s own Barry Chernoff, Director of the College of the Environment, to conduct the interviews and research that became the seeds of this project.

inDANCE rehearse "Quicksand" at Wesleyan on March 1, 2012. Photo by Nam Anh Ta '12.

In faculty news, Hari Krishnan was invited by the Canada Dance Festival to perform Quicksand in Ottawa on June 11, 2012.  Later in the summer, Hari is one of only twenty choreographers from around the world invited to create a solo for Jacobs Pillow’s celebration The Men Dancers: From the Horse’s Mouth, an homage to the Pillow’s 80th Anniversary and pioneering founder Ted Shawn and his company of Men Dancers.

And in local news, in last Sunday’s New Haven Register, I read about a terrific program facilitated by Brad Roth MALS ’97, who runs an organization called Dancing Day, Inc. based in Milford and has taught dance across Connecticut. Now in its third year, the Shared Ability Program, under the auspices of Young Audiences of CT and in partnership with the New Haven Ballet, continues to provide a supportive environment for ballet students and children with disabilities to meet, interact, and share their different experiences and interests. Students learn to accept touch, to communicate through movement, and to express themselves creatively and interactively – skills they’ll develop and draw upon throughout their lives.

For Roth, the “challenge is to create interesting choreography where the attention is not to the disability, but to the choreography. The magic is when restricted movement looks like designed movement or art, rather than the perception of limitation. They’re beautiful little moments that happen regularly – magic little moments where movement turns into dance.”

You can see Brad (and others) talk about the program in this video.

We congratulate Brad and his students on their work so far, and wish them the best of luck in the future.

Be sure to check back soon for more updates!

Until then, I send you my best wishes,

Pamela Tatge
Director, Center for the Arts

“Summer at the CFA” to include New England Premiere of “Big City” by Brian Brooks Moving Company (July 12 & 13)

Tickets for Brian Brooks Moving Company, David Liebman Quartet, and Steve Scionti’s Hear What’s In The Heart: A Shoemaker’s Tale are now on sale online! Click here to buy your tickets.



Peter Hadley discusses WesWinds (May 8)

Center for the Arts Director Pamela Tatge talks to Private Lessons Teacher Peter Hadley about directing the Wesleyan Wind Ensemble, who perform a spring concert on May 8, 2012.

In 2000, Angel Gil-Ordóñez was the new Music Director of the Wesleyan University Orchestra and Peter Hadley was a Ph.D. student.  The two were talking and Angel said, “Peter, Wesleyan needs a wind ensemble and you’re the person to lead it.”  They put up a sign for auditions and only one student showed up.

Flash forward, twelve years later (Peter has his Ph.D.):  there are 39 members of WesWinds;  approximately 50% are Wesleyan students and the remaining members come from the Greater Middletown community.  “After that first semester, we decided to be inclusive. We didn’t hold auditions. To this day, we invite people to come to the first rehearsal and they self-select depending on the difficulty of the material.” One of the people he called on for help in the early years was his friend and colleague, Marco Gaylord, head of arts programming for Middletown Public Schools.  “I tell Marco what instrumentation we’re lacking and he sends me wonderful students.”  One was percussionist/pianist Eli Fieldsteel, now an accomplished composer.  “So alongside Wesleyan students and Middletown high school students, we have a doctor, a retired music teacher, and other students whom I’ve taught from CCSU.”

A mother of one of the Middletown students sent me a note last week, and I asked if I might publish an excerpt.  It was one of those rare emails that appear on your screen and for a few moments, you are transported:

“All I know for certain is that when I come to Weswinds, I often sit in the dark and cry.  I can’t help it.  I see my child sitting on that stage and l listen to all the musicians, and feel overcome.” 

“As I prepare to go to another meeting where people struggle with why we must reduce arts funding, or why the arts are more needed today than ever, I find myself thinking about how I grew up in a hard place with little reason to think that anything worth having or doing would ever be mine. But because I attended an urban public high school with a strong arts program, I found theater.  By my junior year, I had worked in a few theaters around the city and won a full scholarship and a way out. Thanks in part to a (very) little talent.  But more importantly, I had access to the building blocks: exposure, context, training and opportunity.” 

“I don’t take for granted the wonderment I feel when I sit in Crowell Concert Hall and watch this assorted community come together to make music. Our kids play instruments.  And I feel we are all one tiny step closer to grace.”

“The humanities are for all of us.  Whatever our kids do in this life, the experience of participating makes them and the world they will encounter the better for it.  We can never let it just be the kids of privilege, however talented.  Let it also be the children and future artists who beat the odds because at some point they, too, stumbled over the building blocks we positioned along their paths.”

“On May 8, family and friends will be attending the next WesWinds concert. Over the years, we have all come to expect to encounter unusual arrangements, moments that highlight superb musicians, and innovative ways to include all the greener musicians who sign on for the season. Last year Jay Hoggard played with them – and they left the hall after that concert on the balls of their feet, practically levitating up the stairs.”

“Thank you to Wesleyan for all their acts of inclusivity. Each Middletown student who purposefully steps onto campus, begins to imagine their future differently.” 

And thank you, Peter, for being gracious, skilled and undaunted.  I’m so pleased that my kids (and the other Middletown musicians) are participating in this wonderful ensemble.”

Here’s hoping you are able to join us tomorrow night!

WesWinds: Sounds In Motion
Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at 8pm
Crowell Concert Hall
An exploration of form and emotion by the Wesleyan Wind Ensemble under the direction of Peter Hadley, featuring works by Maurice Ravel, Percy Grainger, Johan de Meij, and others.